Like a Phoenix rises from the ashes, a new beginning from local church Living Word will rise from the blaze. As a model of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, Riversiders band together and move forward with a common interest.
An electrical malfunction burned down a church near downtown Riverside, leaving only the walls standing and causing an estimated $2.5 million damage, church and fire officials said. The three-alarm fire was reported at 1:08 a.m. Sunday, Feb. 1, at Living Word of Riverside. The single-story building at 4291 11th St. was built in the 1920s in the shadow of Mount Rubidoux and up the street from historic Evergreen Cemetery.
The fire began in an electrical junction box near the ceiling of the church’s main assembly area, according to the preliminary investigation. “We don’t know how it happened,” said Battallion Chief Michael Staley. “But we do know that’s where it happened.”
With the city’s help, Sunday’s services were held downtown in The Showcase section of the the Fox Performing Arts Center, where the pastor and congregation gave thanks for what God has given them – and expressed faith in the future. Even before the services ended, a city councilman pledged his support.
“I’m going to try to help them find a temporary home,” said Ward 1 Councilman Mike Gardner.
Gardner said he would speak to county officials Monday about the possible use of an old church that is part of the Fourteenth Street property The Press-Enterprise sold to Riverside County in 2013.
Among the high points of Sunday’s service was the arrival of city firefighters who delivered the church’s pulpit and a sign that reads Pray-Believe-Expect. Though the building served as a church its entire life, Pastor Edgy Gallegos said, it had become too small for his congregation. So the fire may have hastened the church’s expansion.
In a display of Riverside as a Unified City, we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
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